Gen Y reality check

I recently conducted a culture assessment on behalf of one of my clients, a retail organisation employing (mainly) Gen Y people.  We wanted to ascertain whether the culture that the management team believes is in place is a reality for the people in the stores too.  One of the questions in the survey asked the respondents to describe the perfect employee and, while trawling through the responses to report back to the client, I came across this absolute gem…

PASSION ,INTESHUHASME ,Ability to learn and deliver service of a high standard with the will to think of NO LIMITS only positive THAUGHTS : Poitive attitude behaviour and to believe in the law of attractions good thaughts attracts good energy thus will ensure target and happinnes and proud .PMA:POSITIVE MENTHOL ATTITUDE.

If you’re as confused as I was, especially by the spelling, try reading it aloud – it helps!  It got me thinking about how Gen Y has been roundly critisized for their apparent lack of appreciation for the qualities which are regarded as important in the business world.  Bad grammar, terrible spelling and the tendency to take an overly familiar tone when communicating in a business context are some of the accusations which have been levelled at Gen Y employees.  Certainly, many of the survey responses  that I saw would easily fit into one or more of these categories.

I found it all a little bit funny and a little bit unsettling for two reasons.  Firstly, I am a ‘cusper’ in that I was born during the transition period between Gen X and Y and can relate to both generations.  I’ll admit that my spelling can sometimes use a bit of help and so I’ve familiarised myself with the location of the spell check button in all the software packages that I use.  Secondly, Gen Y are our future and, as such, will one day be the leaders of organisations.  The optimist in me wants to believe that, for all their failings, they must also have some strengths.  I came up with a few but would love to hear if you can think of any others.

1.  They have an innate affinity with technology

An easy one to start with.  Gen Y’s are the first generation to have grown up in a world where email, Internet and mobile phones arrived first.   If Boomers and Gen X’s have created some innovative tech products, just imagine what the Gen Y’s among us will come up with when they are in charge.

2.  They’re socially responsible

In a world of oil spills, bank melt-downs and phone hackers we could certainly use a new generation of socially conscious leaders.   As a group, Gen Y wants to volunteer their time in support of social causes and have a deep desire to make a difference in the world.  Is is any wonder that Wael Ghonim, who is credited as a pivotal figure in the Egyptian uprising, is a Gen Y?

3.  They’re resourceful

Having grown up with Google, MixIt and Facebook, Gen Y knows how to find anything or, alternatively, can find someone who will be able to lead them to the information.  While previous generations may have lost contact with their school and college friends, Gen Y collects friends and travels through life with a pool of connections from which to draw information.

4.  They’re collaborative

Gen Y is very team oriented and believes in collaborating with one another to achieve a common goal rather than simply following orders.  If the saying that no one is as smart as everyone is true (and I believe that it is) then Gen Y is well positioned to achieve great things.

So, spelling aside, perhaps there is some hope for a future under the leadership of Gen Y’s.  I strongly believe that the world could benefit from the brand of leadership which they will bring to the corporate environment.  Now, if we can just teach them how to find the spell check button.


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